Law Firm SEO: Using the Internet as a Funnel for New Clients
If you are interested in reading a very long article about what SEO is, how it can be used for law firms to generate clients, and the dissected aspects of a healthy SEO strategy, then feel free to read on.
If you are interested in what we can do for you and why firms hire Majux, here is the TL;DR:
What We Offer
In the broadest sense, what we offer (and why so many firms partner with us), is the freedom to build the ideal practice that you envision for yourself. We do this by building a stable base of content and visibility strategies that generate increasing lead volume over time. Having this base of predictable and steady volume allows you to focus on the structure of your practice – whether it be:
- Handling only the types of cases that you want
- Managing intake and referring out cases
- Referring out cases and cherry picking only the most interesting or lucrative
- A change in practice area
- Creating a niche practice
- Scaling to new geographies or building a national practice
- Regaining work/life balance
- Building up a brand as part of an exit strategy
- Or anything in between
Why Firms Choose Us
Firms choose and stay with us because we are not just talking about it – we have a successful track record of doing this for clients. Many of our longtime clients started with us as fresh solo practitioners after leaving a firm and branching out on their own. Over time, we have built these practices up into intentionally customized legal practices and we can do the same for you.
We Are a Strategy and Fulfillment House
Many agencies are happy to manage the strategic piece of your campaign and outsource the actual production and implementation contained within that strategy. There are several reasons why this is not beneficial for the client, but the main drawbacks would be capped work product and quality control. If your current agency is outsourcing the production and/or implementation piece of your engagement, that means that they are capping the amount of hours, or work product, for the people who are actually working on the campaign. This is because they have to take the money that you pay them each month, carve it up, and pay an hourly rate to outsourced or contracted freelancers. If more work is suddenly needed in order to pivot, adapt to a Google update, speed things up, or simply move the needle for you at all, you are either waiting for your next reoccurrence date to tick over (and the retainer is replenished), or you have to pay more money.
We operate completely differently. Because all of our folks are in-house and in-person, we are able to allocate the necessary resources to your campaign in real-time. Essentially, we will not stop until you are generating leads.
This is why our agency is structured differently than other agencies in the space. We place more of an emphasis on assembling team members that are talented at performing the actual task that they work on. We do not employ generalists, account managers, or social media specialists who are pulled in to work on your strategy. We operate in a structure that is more flat, which allows us to attract and nurture ongoing individual expertise in all of the components that combine to build up a stable, long-term strategy.
We Have a Breadth of Data on What Converts Well
Because we are working with a number of firms at a given time, we have a large, data-backed knowledge base on what strategies convert well and the order with which they should be implemented. This also allows us to more quickly get you to a point where you are generating calls.
Because everything we do is backed by data, you are also able to benefit from our experience in other geographies in terms of specific patterns, what content topics convert, what visibility is important, and elements of websites that have been proven to convert well. This access to large data sets from a variety of geographies also allows us to identify real-time patterns in terms of what Google likes (and doesn’t’ like) in terms of quality, intent and ranking factors – which is now crucially important.
This one seems obvious, but 99% of the conversations that we have with firm owners begin with something similar to:
“My agency used to be good, but now it seems like the owner is more interested in coaching than actually providing value.”
“I think my agency got too big (or lost too many clients) and they can’t handle the work anymore.”
“I just don’t feel the love with my current agency.”
For us, the work product and the results are our core focus. Our leadership is not interested in creating a podcast or building up an agency with the primary goal of selling it off. Our only interest is you. If you come to us with a system that is broken, we will not stop until it is fixed. If your practice changes, we will not stop until you are generating leads. We hold ourselves to the same level of scrutiny that you would.
Beyond that, we only take on clients when we have the bandwidth to provide a good work product. We are not selling first, staffing later. If we don’t have the capacity in terms of man hours to move the needle for you, we would much rather refer you to another agency than take on the work and not staff it appropriately.
We Help You Manage Costs
We offer easy-to-understand fixed-cost engagements that allow you to predict and manage cash flow and operations.
You Retain the Control
We also do not act as intermediaries for your assets. We set everything up in your name and manage them for you with delegated access. We can also help you regain control of your web properties and assets if another agency is holding them hostage. Our goal is not to make $100/month off of you to manage the hosting of your website, our goal is to have every month be your best month ever in terms of leads generated from the web.
On a sidenote, if your agency is holding your assets hostage – run.
How is SEO for a Law Firm Different than Other Types of Companies?
When it comes to SEO for law firms, there are unique considerations that have to be made due both to the ethical considerations and the highly competitive search landscape. It can be difficult to generate leads if you don’t know how to target potential clients at the exact time they are searching for representation. Google calls this “intent” and this piece is important. We are experts at matching your content and visibility strategies with the intent of potential clients. This is much different than the visibility strategy behind how you would promote an eCommerce product or unrelated service.
SEO for law firms involves understanding the intent of a searcher’s query and what content or information they need to satisfy their research and ultimately turn them into a lead. A successful SEO strategy is able to capture prospective legal clients and guide them to take action (by calling you) on your website.
Does Your Law Firm Need SEO?
SEO and inbound content marketing has consistently been proven to be the most stable form of digital marketing that you can have as a part of your law firm’s overall strategy.
Is Your Competition is Using SEO and Content to Get New Clients?
If you still don’t think your competition is devoting marketing resources toward attracting clients online, Google your practice area – see who shows up. You might be surprised at who is devoting resources to attracting clients from the web.
Now disregard that fact for a second (just because your competition is doing something isn’t necessarily enough of a reason to jump in yourself.) Think about this instead – in the last fifteen years, an entire generation of individuals and executives who are in a position to purchase legal services (either within their organization or on their own) has become knowledgeable and comfortable doing their research on the web. Cost and importance are no longer a concern when it comes to online purchasing. People research everything from life-or-death decisions such as which surgeon to use to seemingly mindless decisions such as which restaurant to go to.
It’s almost counter-intuitive to think that those same individuals or business owners wouldn’t devote some amount of time to selecting and evaluating an attorney prior to hiring them. Even outside of a cold-search, such as in the instance of a referral, nearly every potential client does some amount of secondary research on their own.
How Do You Know if Your Current SEO is Working?
In short, data. You should have access to all of your data 24 hours a day and be able to confirm that the data is correct. If that is not the case, don’t even bother reading on, call us.
The First Level Of Tracking: Keyword Rankings
We use tools to monitor the daily fluctuations of your keywords, and we are able to quickly see what’s working and what isn’t. We will also share these rankings with you each month so you can see for yourself what your marketing budget is earning.
Second Level: Website Traffic and Onsite Metrics
We use Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to measure actual traffic to your website, see what your web visitors are doing once they arrive, and track form submissions, chat interactions, phone clicks, and more. We then demonstrate this to you in a Google Data Studio dashboard. We also use Google Search Console to monitor search query data and see how Google views your site.
Level Three: Call and Lead Tracking
We use conversion events and call tracking software to measure actual form fills and phone calls on your site (not just clicks). We can attribute these calls to their sources, record them for quality control, and make informed marketing decisions in real time.
Fourth Level: Intake and Client Interaction
Truthfully, no amount of leads matter if you aren’t signing cases. We will check in often to see if the calls are translating to actual clients. It is not uncommon for our clients to need help with intake once we get to a point where we are producing a volume of leads for them. It can be something that is overwhelming if you are not used to it. In fact, this happens so often, that our Founder, Bernie Clark, has become somewhat of an intake optimization expert and is often contracted to improve intake processes for law firms that are both our clients and non-clients.
Considerations When Choosing Which Agency to Work With
Unfortunately, a major issue in the online legal marketing space is that there simply are not enough agencies that are good at actually generating new clients for firms. Sure, there are a large number of agencies that have produced results in other industries or that can increase traffic metrics. What we often hear from law firms that contact us is that these agencies simply don’t end up producing results in the form of real, high-quality prospective clients. What they do often end up producing are what we refer to as “vanity metrics.”
Has Your Law Firm Been Through 2-3 SEO Agencies with No Results?
An agency said all the right things, perhaps produced some results early on, but was not able to sustain or grow market share or client generation for the firm. This is sometimes caused by an agency being singularly good at one aspect of a campaign (such as technical SEO or social media), but not having a well-balanced team or expertise in multiple disciplines (such as marketing strategy, conversion optimization, UX, or content strategy).
When we dig into it, many of these agencies are often outsourcing work product, which in the best case doesn’t allow for consistency or quality control; and in the worst case, causes fulfillment issues. What happens is that their singular expertise causes an initial uptick in activity but that activity stagnates or slows down once that expertise has been exhausted. Then the law firm will go with another agency that is good in a different discipline, where that underlying issue is rinsed-and-repeated. How do you get your law firm out of this costly and time-intensive loop?
Was Your Law Firm Forced/Exhausted into Choosing the “Safe” Option of a Large Agency?
A second situation that we see often and is far worse for the client than our first scenario. Many of the larger, legal-focused agencies save cost and streamline process by reproducing the same strategy and website aesthetic for clients. Often, these clients are in the same geographic market. What this results in is a cookie-cutter approach that is often out-dated and at odds with the actual nuts-and-bolts of what goes into generating leads for their clients (more on that below). The worst part, you are overpaying for the ‘luxury’ of working with the large agencies.
Are You Being Held Hostage Without Results?
Worse, a couple of the less-scrupled large agencies hold your digital assets hostage or lock you into ridiculously long-term contracts. The use of the word “ridiculously” is not hyperbole. A 3-year SEO or web design contract can be downright dangerous to the long-term stability of your firm. That is because of the pace at which things change in our world. Not just in how Google evaluates websites, but also in changes to how potential clients interact with websites. Apple could (and will) come out with a new iPhone that is a different width or loads different types of JS differently and all of the sudden you need to overhaul your site.
Having a client locked in for three years means that these large agencies can either coast or upcharge you for tasks that become necessary as the internet evolves but might ‘fall outside’ of your current ‘scope.’ Both of those scenarios are directly-opposed to their being motivated to produce results in a sustained, long-term manner. What’s even worse, is that when a firm realizes this, it is often too late and in order to get out. You will have to forfeit you site files and the work that has been done up to that point. I cannot tell you how many websites we have had to rebuild almost overnight in order to combat a large agency taking a law firm’s website down.
We prefer to let the results we produce make the case for your wanting to work with us – and produce results is what we do. That is why all of our engagements are on sixty-day terminations and we enjoy a 90% client retention rate. Our engagements are also structured so that you own all of your own assets – the website, your domain, your hosting, your call tracking, everything. You are not “renting” anything from us.
Should You Choose an Agency that Works with Your Competitors?
Is the agency you are considering working with your competition? You can check this simply by asking a prospective marketing agency who else they work with in your market and performing a Google search for them. Which firm are they going to work on ‘harder?’ Are they going to let your firm hire them to take away the market share that they have already charged your competitor to build? Would they then turn around and do the same thing to you? There are only so many eyes that you can compete for in a given geographic market. This is especially true in the paid advertising space, which is more of a zero-sum strategy.
You would much rather have an agency who is both competent and not working with your competition. That way, you can be assured that their success is reliant on taking market share away from your competition, rather than managing who gets what and for what cost.
If we have given a firm exclusivity, we do not work with competing firms whose primary office location overlaps in the same county and all exclusivity rights are clearly outlined in our engagements.
Will the New Agency Provide References?
This one is obvious. So obvious in fact, that many people fail to consider it. What is the first thing you do when you need to repair your vehicle? You ask friends if they know a good mechanic. You check Google for reviews and ratings. The same should be true with an agency. If you find a promising agency that you are considering, ask them for at least one reference. Unless the agency is fairly new, most successful agencies should have a strong portfolio of satisfied clients eager to make a recommendation. This can put you at ease.
Beware of “Guarantees”
Internet marketing is not an exact science. Most companies that claim to offer a “guarantee” or use other sales language that feels “scammy” are usually exactly that. Instead of considering a company that makes large promises they can’t necessarily keep (usually just to get your first check in their pockets), you should search for a company that is transparent and intelligent, with a focused approach. The other thing to know is that Google is constantly changing its algorithm. Any internet marketing company that is experienced should know and understand that. They should know full well that, especially in the beginning of a campaign, your rankings can be up one day, and down the next. And if your marketing company is promoting best practices, a first page ranking that is more stable to fluctuations within Google’s algorithm changes takes time to build – sometimes a long time depending on how competitive your niche is. Any company that guarantee you front page placement in month one or two may even be able to get you there, but you probably won’t be there long, and once you are penalized by Google for participating in what it considers ‘web spam’, the recovery process can take a lot longer than a month or two, if at all. Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to Google’s search results – trust your gut, if a company interacts with you like a used car salesman would, steer clear.
How Does the Communication Feel to You?
Again, transparency is paramount. You want a company that will listen to your company’s needs, and offer form fit solutions to your particular set of priorities. If a company uses a “one size fits all” approach, this will typically result in something that may not match your desired campaign, or fit your budget. For example: there are many 3rd party options for analytics. If your budget is lower or your campaign is limited in scope, there should be several options on the table to accommodate that fact. For instance, Google Analytics gives insight into what visitors do on your site once they’ve decided to visit; and the service is free. While it is likely not the optimum solution for a company looking for sophisticated analytics, it may be a good sign if the option at least comes up in a conversation.
All in all, prioritize transparency, focus, and professionalism when searching out a company to meet your internet marketing needs. Look out for vague pricing or one track strategies, and you’re well on your way to a successful marketing campaign.
Does SEO Work For Law Firms?
Yes, SEO works to sign cases for law firms of all sizes and practice areas. And not only does it work – search engine optimization is the main source of leads for many of our clients. Here are a few examples:
- One of our criminal defense clients in the Northwest received 264 unique phone calls and 85 form submissions from organic traffic (SEO traffic) in August, 2021
- A personal injury client in Arkansas received 113 unique phone calls and 30 form submissions from organic traffic in December, 2021
- A boutique injury firm focused on MVAs on the East Coast received 62 unique calls/texts in January, 2021
If you have ever heard from a peer or competitor that “SEO doesn’t work!,” one of the following is probably true:
- It was working, but they gave up too early
- They didn’t properly track the results or attribute leads
- They received poor SEO work
Let’s address these scenarios:
You Can’t Give Up On SEO Too Soon
Some lawyers think their SEO project isn’t working, when in reality, they just aren’t looking in the right places. If you see month-over-month impression growth in Google Search Console, more traffic in Google Analytics, or more views in your Google My Business insights, the SEO is working. Consistent leads are coming soon.
A brand new domain and website will likely require 6+ months of SEO work before it starts to generate consistent leads. It could take longer if you are seeking to enter an established, competitive market. This isn’t rocket science – only ten firms can rank in the top 10 traditional SERP results, and your competitors will have already completed years of backlinking, content, and PR work before you came along.
As a result, some attorneys can get cold feet after spending $30,000 – $50,000 on SEO without a positive return. This is a mistake, considering the realistic timeline and value proposition of SEO, but it’s a reality.
Properly Tracking and Attributing Leads
If you’ve gone through the effort of generating leads from SEO, make sure your lead tracking is on point. Consider using a UTM string to track website traffic and leads from Google My Business, using CallRail numbers to track calls from both your website and GMB, and track form submissions in Google Analytics. Generating results is half the battle, and communicating ROI is the other.
Were You Victimized by Poor Work?
If you paid for a large agency that didn’t care about your account, or had a bad experience with a consultant. It happens, and you can’t necessarily recoup your lost investment. It’s important to move on quickly and work with someone who can both undo the bad work and start you on a path towards success. The longer that you let an agency do bad work, the more you are going to have to pay an agency to undo or clean up that bad work – you are essentially paying twice.
Whether you currently have a website, don’t, or already have an online marketing strategy in place, we can help you become better known in any practice you’d like. We’ve helped attorneys launch new practices, run nationally-known blogs, increase perceived authority in a practice area, and get new clients in narrowly-focused litigation practices. We start with your clearly-expressed goals and custom-tailor a solution to achieve those goals.
Increase the Quantity and Quality of New Clients
Beyond other SEO companies that promise to get you listed on the front page of Google and increase traffic to your website, we can offer something else they can’t, a full-solution marketing strategy that is constantly churning in the background while you concentrate on your practice. That is because we focus on new clients. How we get there is by providing all the tools that any national firm with a fully-staffed internal marketing department would use – web, content, conversion, PR, SEO, social – whatever makes clients find you.
Making Sure Your Website is Set Up to Attract and Convert Visitors
Firstly, your website has to be mobile friendly (that seems obvious in 2021, but we still encounter websites that don’t load properly on iPhones and Android devices). It’s well established by this point that over half of web searches come from mobile devices, so if your site looks like junk on your phone, give us a call.
Page Speed and the New “LCP” Metric that Google Uses to Evaluate Your Website
Have you measured the speed of your website? If not, plug your URL in Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool – you might be disappointed. Further, in May 2020, Google introduced “LCP” or “Largest Contentful Paint“, which measures how quickly the majority of your content loads on mobile for a simulated human visitor. This is now a core metric by which Google evaluates and rewards your website.
Here’s a sobering statistic straight from Google: as your page load time increases from 1 second to 5 seconds, the probability of a web user “bouncing,” or abandoning your site without engaging, increases by 90%. No matter how you look at it, you are losing cases by having a slow mobile website.
We have a sophisticated method for speeding up your site – we redesign with LCP in mind and minimize unnecessary scripts, compress (or remove) images, optimize your hosting and content delivery network (CDN) quality, and much more. All other things equal, the law firm with the fastest and most user-friendly mobile website often wins.
A Website Without Technical Errors
Does your site have broken pages (404 errors), incorrect canonical tags, redirect chains, inefficient code, bad lang attributes, or other technical issues? Each error devalues your site in Google’s eyes – one of the first things we do is crawl your site for technical SEO problems. It’s the “low hanging fruit” of SEO, and it directly leads to higher keyword rankings.
Are You Sending the Right Signals to Google?
Google relies on page content, title tags, meta descriptions, image alt text, anchor text, and schema markup to determine how relevant your website is to user queries, and we will do the research to find the right phrases to use in these situations. It doesn’t matter how many backlinks you have – in a competitive niche, having the wrong SEO title will tank your website.
How User-Friendly is Your Site?
User experience (UX) matters for SEO. If a visitor finds your site but can’t easily click a phone button or fill out a form, they will leave and become another firm’s client. We include conversion rate optimization (CRO) into our marketing strategy, and we’ll measure engagement on your site and make sure visitors convert after arrival.
Content Strategy as a Cornerstone of Your Law Firm’s Digital Strategy
Ask yourself: does your website answer the questions that your potential clients are asking? If someone Google’s a car accident-related question, for instance, do you have a blog or page that can help them?
Take a Full-Funnel Approach to Content
Your website needs to satisfy middle-of-the-funnel (research) and end-of-full (purchase intent) search queries. For example, people on the web are asking, “What is the average settlement for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Nebraska?”. They have not yet decided if they are going to hire a lawyer, but it’s in your best interests to have that content on your website. Once they start Googling “medical malpractice lawyer near me,” they are at the end of the funnel – and you need a specific page to match that intent as well.
Our content strategy at Majux attacks every aspect of the sales funnel simultaneously, and we are constantly tracking your conversion and traffic data to see which pages are producing results, and which aren’t.
Understanding Your Audience and Intent Will Set You Apart
Do your prospective clients use the phrase “workman’s comp” or “workers’ comp”? Do they use your city name in web searches, or do they prefer state-wide terminology? We will use our tools to research this for you, and we can write your content to address these concerns specifically. Furthermore, we can dig up actual search queries you should have blog posts and pages for, and we’ll incorporate those into our content strategy.
Content Demonstrating Specific Experience
Generic content won’t cut it. Your content needs to cite laws and statutes, be 100% unique, and show that the person writing it has in-depth legal knowledge. At Majux, our editorial team is staffed by expert writers who have passed the bar exam – and that expertise shines through in the content we produce.
We touched on this above, but legal content is not one-size-fits-all. Laws are different in Arkansas than they are in Pennsylvania, and furthermore, web users often include the state in their legal web queries. You need content written for a local audience by experts.
Consider that each backlink to your website – a link from another site to your own – is a vote. And that votes from high quality websites carry more weight in Google’s eyes. The trick is acquiring those backlinks.
There are websites, like Martindale and FindLaw, that list lawyers and firms in a directory. You apply for inclusion, and you are able to list your law firm name, address, phone number, and often include a link to your website. We have an exhaustive list of these websites, and we add our clients’ sites to each one.
We also track down websites devoted to amplifying local businesses of all kinds, not just law firms. These websites often carry a great deal of authority, and we can earn a backlink from them as well.
We have successfully pitched article ideas to high-authority websites. These contextual media mentions carry significant weight in Google’s eyes, and they will help you rank higher.
If you were involved in a high profile case, achieved a remarkable verdict, or have something else newsworthy to share, we can help by contacting interested journalists in that field. When you are quoted in the news, you will often receive a backlink back to your website.
Local SEO For Law Firms
So after everything mentioned above, there’s another kind of SEO entirely? Kind of – local SEO does play by a slightly different set of rules.
Citations for Local SEO
Your firm will rank higher in the Google Map Pack if you acquire a high volume of local citations: instances of your business name, address, and phone number across the internet. This is called your NAP, and for reference, here’s what Majux’s looks like:
211 N 13th St #601, Philadelphia, PA 19107
You don’t need a backlink for a citation to help you rank higher in local search.
Local SEO is Proximity Based, in Part
Many web users are searching for “near me” terms, so if you are the closest law firm to a person searching for a particular query, you will probably rank in the top three map positions, even if you don’t have a great deal of backlinks or citations. So in that regard, local SEO levels the playing field. Keep this principle in mind when you are searching for a law firm office location.
A Short Guide to Local SEO Ranking Signals for Lawyers
Your website, content, and backlink profile do matter for local SEO – firms with more authority on the web will rank higher, and if you have locally relevant content on your website, you’ll have a better chance of ranking in the map pack.
As previously mentioned, your proximity to a client’s location also matters, so choose your address carefully.
Your Google My Business profile will also need to be properly optimized if you wish to rank well. Practice areas need to be spelled out, your NAP needs to be consistent with the information on your website and across the web, and you shouldn’t spam your business name with keywords.
“SEO” vs. “PPC”
Firstly, the “law of two truths” applies here – you can get great results from both paid media and SEO at the same time. It’s not necessarily an either-or scenario. If you have the budget to do so, we recommend that you invest in Google Ads for attorneys and possibly even other channels as a stop gap at the very beginning of an SEO/content campaign while your visibility is still rising.
The Benefits of Investing in Both PPC and SEO Simultaneously
Paid media (in particular, search advertising) channels and organic channels inform each other. The keyword research we perform for SEO purposes drives efficient search advertising campaigns, and as we view search data from paid search campaigns, we are able to work those queries into our organic content.
Furthermore, SEO data (including search query reports from Google Search Console) help us build Custom Intent Audiences in the Google Ads platform. These curated audiences generate cost-effective leads for lawyers, and even though they run on the display network, they lead to calls and form submissions.
But if your budget calls for an either-or scenario, we would recommend choosing SEO and content over PPC for the following reasons:
The Rising Cost Of PPC Advertising
Pay per click (PPC) advertising follows a bidding model. As more advertisers jump into the fray, the average cost per click will necessarily increase, and long term cost inflation will occur. If the recent economic climate has taught us anything, it’s that whenever times get tough, every law firm who feels pinched to try and increase lead intake turns to Google Ads for some quick leads – only to realize that everyone else has done the same. Google and Facebook are not making it cheaper to advertise, and more and more advertisers are joining the platforms. These marketing costs have nowhere to go but up.
The Cost-Per-Lead for Leads Generated from SEO Gets Cheaper Over Time
Unlike paid media, which always inflates, your ROI will keep improving with SEO. As your rankings increase and your organic traffic grows, you’ll get more and more calls without paying higher fees. Eventually, the only cost you’ll incur is for the ongoing maintenance of your SEO – and you may not need to spend money on Google Ads to keep the leads flowing.
SEO is Recession Proof
Once you are ranking for your practice area terms, you won’t have to make knee-jerk decisions because of a bad economy. Your lead intake won’t take a hit if you need to turn off your paid advertising in a budget pinch, and you won’t have to suddenly spend thousands of dollars on search ads just to keep your phone ringing.
SEO is the Only Channel that’s a True Investment, Not a 1:1 Return
The investment you pour into SEO now will have a compounding effect down the road. Unlike PPC advertising, where you don’t receive “free” recurring value, your SEO efforts will keep driving ever-increasing traffic and leads in the future with no additional cost.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are ready to get started, feel free to call and set up a time to speak with our Founder, Bernie Clark.